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Chaplain of the Year to pray in Congress

MOBILE, Ala. (BP)–Endel Lee, newly named as “National Chaplain of the Year” by the Reserve Officers Association of the United States, will deliver a prayer on Tuesday, Feb. 9, to open the day’s deliberations of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t consider myself a hero. I’m just a hero helper trying to provide spiritual care in trying and sometimes traumatic circumstances,” said Lee, a Southern Baptist chaplain endorsed by the North American Mission Board whose chaplaincy duties have extended into Iraq alongside U.S. troop, to New York City after 9/11 and along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

The opportunity to serve as chaplain of the day in Congress is part of the recognition Lee is receiving as the Chaplain Vincent Robert Capodanno National Chaplain of the Year during the Reserve Officers Association’s annual conference Monday, Feb. 8, in Washington.

Lee’s prayer will be aired live on C-SPAN at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Tuesday.

Currently, Lee serves as deputy chaplain with the Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North in New Orleans, commuting home to Mobile, Ala., on weekends. He counsels Marines and sailors, provides pastoral care in times of crisis, conducts funerals and coordinates a variety of spiritual and physical support for families in crisis.

He also serves as disaster relief chaplaincy coordinator for the North American Mission Board, facilitating the recruitment, training, mobilization and management of Southern Baptist chaplains during times of personal, community, regional and national crisis.

Lee was an assistant professor of preaching and pastoral ministry in New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Leavell College from 1998-2006.

Describing himself as “just a country boy from lower Alabama, just trying to be obedient to God,” Lee said he is honored for the opportunity to pray before Congress. “The ministry that it represents, to vocalize a prayer on behalf of the Armed Forces and the leadership of our country, is a humbling opportunity — to speak to God on their behalf,” he said.

Lee is a graduate of the University of Mobile who subsequently earned master of divinity, master of religious education and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

While a student at the University of Mobile, Lee enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, accepting a direct commission after graduating from UM in 1985 with a bachelor of arts in theology. He married fellow UM graduate Kathy Perkins, whom he met in music class. (Today they have two sons, Hunter, 19, a current UM student, and Cody, 17.)

After obtaining his M.Div. from Southwestern, Lee transferred to the Navy Reserve as a chaplain in 1993.

“Chaplain Lee has seen significant periods of active duty over the past nine years,” according to a press release from the Reserve Officers Association. “Such duty began with Operation Guarding Liberty and service with the U.S. Coast Guard in New York City immediately after Sept. 11, 2001.

“He then deployed in 2005 for Operation Iraqi Freedom as the Camp Fallujah Protestant coordinator and battalion chaplain, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. Upon returning from that deployment, he participated in Hurricane Katrina response with the U.S. Coast Guard’s District 8 on the Gulf Coast.

“In 2008 he served with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group and then transitioned to his current assignment,” the release stated.

Lee said he has “a deep passion to care for service members and their families. I was exposed to the military culture young in life, and you really need to know that military mindset to relate to people and their demands in that setting.”
Adapted from a report by Kathy Dean, director of public relations at the University of Mobile.

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